Other gods (Sunday, the 30th of October 2016)

So did you know that the Bible does not deny that there are other gods?!

2. Thess. 1: 11 to 2: 2:

[11] Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: [12] That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Chapter 2:

[1] Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, [2] That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

Are there other gods?

Verse 11 speaks of ‘Our God’ which implies there are other gods.

When Jacob saw God at the top of the ladder reaching up to heaven, God spoke to him. He began (Gen. 28: 13), ‘I [am] the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: ….‘ I heard this story for the first time when I was six years old in my religion lessons at school. Immediately I asked myself, ‘why would God say such a thing?’ If there is only one God, who else could He possibly be?! I didn’t dare to ask my teacher though.

Even the first commandment says (Ex. 20: 3), ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me!’ It does not say, there are no other gods! The next two verses even say, ‘Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that is in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: ….’ Other gods do exist, but we are not to serve or worship them.

What is a god?

A god is what makes you go! A good example is in the Odyssey, when Odysseus and his men arrive on the island of the cyclops. Hom. Od. 9: 140 to 148, ‘Now at the head of the harbor a spring of bright water flows forth from beneath a cave, and round about it poplars grow. Thither we sailed in, and some god guided us through the murky night; for there was no light to see, but a mist lay deep about the ships and the moon showed no light from heaven, but was shut in by clouds. Then no man’s eyes beheld that island, nor did we see the long waves rolling on the beach, until we ran our well-benched ships on shore.’

Can you imagine this? They couldn’t see anything. Therefore they could only hear the breaking waves. That was their only way of orientation. Yet ‘some god guided them through the murky night’!

So do we see our paths clearly ahead of us? Or who is guiding us through our lives otherwise? Is it God? Or do we have other gods beside Him? Some people say there is no god. These might claim that their moral principles are guiding them. So do our moral principles guide us? Most certainly! But what are our moral principles? Do they include Love Thy Neighbour?

On the contrary, don’t we teach our children

in their economics lessons at school that only the strongest shall survive? Has anybody thought that through to the end? What would, on the other hand, happen to the majority of people who are no the strongest? Don’t we teach our children to compete? So does this competitiveness not lead to greed, envy and jealousy? Aren’t these therefore our moral values, negative moral, yet moral? Does competition isolate us? Will it make a congregation feel artificial and fake? Does this make us unhappy?

Also, does this behaviour make any sense? Many say, competition is natural. After all, didn’t Darwin discover that? Yes he certainly did. However, the first thing Darwin discovered was that nature provides abundance! In nature animals have plenty of offspring and only the fittest survive. A mouse might have hundred offspring during her life time. If the environment is stable that means mouse numbers do not go up or down over generations. Consequently only two offspring of each female on average will survive to sexual maturity in a stable environment! Most of the cute little baby animals die! That was Darwin’s discovery! That is the starting point of his theory, the theory of survival of the fittest, not the strongest!

The word fittest

actually descends from the verb to fit. The fittest fits well into a niche in its environment! A bird might have a beak that enables it to crack nuts. Or it might have a long thin beak which enables it to eat little grubs living at the bottom of holes on the beach. Survival is not a merit of the individual. Survival comes from providing abundance with variation. Then only those whose genes coincidentally have equipped them with a feature that enables them to survive better than their competitors will survive. It is not their personal merit! Is it fair to blame the weak for dying in nature? Is it fair to blame the economically weak and unemployed for their plight?

A humane society is not natural! Medicine and pharmacy aim at making people survive even though nature has ruled that they should die now!

So who is our god? Is it God or one of the other gods? Is this our god?

other gods 

This bull image stands outside the Wall Str. Stock Exchange! Do our ‘moral values’ of competition, survival of the strongest, envy and greed make this our god? Are there atheists or is this the god of the people who identify as such? What makes them go?

Should we turn to God?

Should we Love our Neighbours?

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.